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SMS Academy 2018/19 squad assembles

The successful applicants to the 2018/19 SMS Academy have been announced and have already attended Knockhill Racing Circuit today, for the first session of the Academy programme.

The SMS Academy was set up in 2017 to support young riders and drivers (aged 14-20) who are showing potential to excel in the sport. Having successfully supported 23 young drivers and riders in the 2017/18 programme, applications launched in August for a new fresh squad to come in and benefit from the Academy’s support. Since launching the application, we have received a huge amount of interest in the programme. This has made the job of the selection panel – which included representatives from Scottish Motor Sports, the Scottish Auto Cycle Union (SACU) and the Motor Sports Association (MSA) – extremely difficult but after some deliberation, the following competitors have been selected:

The SMS Academy members will each be allocated a coach to offer remote support and advice when needed across the year. Between now and August 2019, the members will take part in four development workshops, which will support them in all aspects of their development, equipping them with the knowledge, skills and attitudes needed to maximise their performance.

The first SMS Academy workshop took place today – Wednesday 17th October – at Knockhill, where the Academy members are getting an introduction to the programme, creating their own development plan for the upcoming year and learning about sponsorship, amongst other subjects.  The programme will again be delivered by fully qualified MSA Level 2 coaches; Blair Brown and Malcolm McNab will be continuing as Academy coaches but they will also be joined by SACU Enduro competitor, Kevin Murray, who – having went through his level 2 coaching qualification last year, will be tasked with leading some of the more technical discussions with the riders on the programme.

New for the 2018/19 programme will be a specific session for the parents in January; parents of the Academy athletes will be invited to attend a special Introduction to Coaching session that will be aimed at developing their own understanding of talent development and coaching to help them best support their son/daughters development. This is being introduced following feedback from last year’s programme, where parents expressed that they would like to have more involvement in their son/daughters development on the SMS Academy. 

There will also be additional support for the SACU riders on the programme this year with sponsorship from Ride Scotland. This new sponsorship will support the riders through additional coaching at events / training days, to help facilitate the riders to put what they have learned in the SMS Academy sessions, into practice.

Amongst the bike racers selected for the Academy this year are Adon Davie (Prestonpans, SACU, Road Race), Angus Bruce (Kelso, SACU, Enduros), Calum Pert (Edzell, SACU, Road Race), Declan Connell (Dunfermline, SACU, Road Race), Jack Hart (Renfrew, SACU, Road Race), Lewis Nicol (Cupar, SACU, Road Race), Robbie Wood (Melrose, SACU, Quad), Ross Maguire (Wishaw, SACU, Road Race), and Sophie Simpson (Stewarton, SACU, Trials).

Follow the SMS Social media channels to hear about the upcoming SMS Academy sessions and to keep up to date with the new squad’s progress. 


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SMS Academy Session 3 concludes at Knockhill

The third session of the Scottish Motor Sport Academy (SMS Academy) concluded today at Knockhill Racing Circuit with Niall Mackenzie sharing his vast experience with the young riders Callum Grigor (SACU Road Race), Gillian McGaw (SACU Road Race), Jamie Simpson (SACU Trials) and Malcolm Summers (SACU Trials).

The SMS Academy was set up to support young drivers and riders aged 14-20 who are already showing potential to excel in the sport. A significant number of athletes applied to be part of the programme and a panel, including three-time Le Mans 24 Hour winner and former F1 driver Allan McNish and three times British Superbike champion Niall Mackenzie had the unenviable task of whittling that number down to select the 23 young drivers and riders to be part of the inaugural SMS Academy.

The day started with some technical talk increasing the riders and drivers theory knowledge and discussing key terms used when racing. Do you know what a Friction Circle is? Well, it affects all cars and bikes when driving, riding or racing and the young upcoming racers dived headlong into the theory of how it affects their riding and driving in competition.

With a breakout from the main group the riders sat down with three times British Superbike champion Niall MacKenzie to discuss riding techniques and the preparation, lifestyle, nutrition and fitness choices that leads from club level racing to national and international championship level racing careers.

The fourth session will take place in the summer when the riders and drivers will go through media training, take a look at their own profiles and how to develop them and practice interview techniques.


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Off The Streets

Kingdom Off Road Motorcycle Club has been recognised for its outstanding work in community sport by being named as Local Club of the Year at the Sunday Mail sportscotland Scottish Sports Awards on December 7.

Since its inception the Fife club has gone all out to give motorbike enthusiasts a safe and controlled environment, helping to reduce bike-related crime in the area while introducing the sport to many new members.

With the help of National Lottery direct club investment from sportscotland, and Scottish Motorsports, KORMC has now taken on a coach to encourage youngsters at school to get involved in motorsport through free introduction sessions.

David Paton, club programme coordinator, admitted it was great to see the club’s work for members and its local community recognised.

He said: “Kingdom Off Road was formed in response to a community crisis, I guess; there were so many young people within Levenmouth, Kennoway, Methil areas running about the streets on off-road motorcycles without any helmets causing themselves danger.

“There were accidents and incidents but it was also causing a lot of injuries to other people.

“We are absolutely ecstatic to win this award. Most of our work is done by committed volunteers who put in so much work for the young people. When we talk about sport we don’t think about motorsport, there is very little recognition of the fitness and dedication required to perform.

“Thanks to sportscotland’s direct club investment we have been able to employ a coach who will be going into high schools to encourage even more young people to get involved in the sport.”

David and his team have set out to change the negative perception of motorcyclists within their local communities. Their commitment has helped towards a steady decrease in bike-related crime in the Fife area and their 12-week programmes offer youngsters lessons in life beyond the sport.

Club member Benn Sweet is relishing the environment the club has created, saying it is where he wants to spend all his free time now.

Benn said: “Before I was going down the beach, up to the woods. This has changed that. I just come here now. I’m getting a bike at Christmas and I’m going to start racing.”

David revealed the Local Club of the Year award was not the only recognition KORMC have had; they continually receive good feedback from the police for the work they do in bringing down motorcycle-related crime and helping young people in the Fife area.

He added: “For motorcycling there are very few places which weren’t supported. So we set about creating somewhere for young people and motorcycle enthusiasts. A few years on we realised there was a need for a more structured approach to help offenders who were not able to get to the track and ended up running about the streets on their motorbikes.

“At that point we went about devising a 12-week programme that looked at more than just sport, it looked at group work on specific topics, such as victim perspective and accidents and incidents. We also look at the consequences of breaking the law.  

“Year on year, we get feedback from the police that our work is having a positive impact.

“We are not curing the problem but we are certainly giving them more options going forward.”